This was originally posted on the Department of Defense's blog DODLive. You can view the original post here .  Last week, I visited the United States Military Academy at West Point and spoke to the 4,400 cadets there who will help lead our force of the future. I thanked them for answering the noble call of service and for embracing the awesome responsibility of leadership. While on campus, I had the opportunity to have lunch with a dozen cadets who have chosen infantry service, including the first women at the academy to do so following my December announcement that all military positions will be open to anyone, male or female, who can meet our high standards. It is not only these remarkable women who are making history; it is every cadet who is doing so. First in training, and then in battle, they will lead this implementation, and they will demonstrate that the women who recently graduated from Ranger School, who have accompanied our special operations forces, who led convoys in combat and have flown attack helicopters for the past 15 years are not just a news story; they are a vital part of our ability to defend our nation. To succeed in our mission of national defense, we cannot afford to cut ourselves off from half the country’s talents and skills – we have to take full advantage of every individual who can meet our high standards. U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Scott Miller congratulates Capt. Kristen Griest and U.S. Army Ranger School Class 08-15 during their graduation at Fort Benning, Georgia, Aug. 21, 2015. Griest and class member 1st Lt. Shaye Haver became the first female graduates of the school. Army photo. It is not only these remarkable women who are making history; it is every cadet who is doing so. First in training, and then in battle, they will lead this implementation, and they will demonstrate that the women who recently graduated from Ranger School, who have accompanied our special operations forces, who led convoys in combat and have flown attack helicopters for the past 15 years are not just a news story; they are a vital part of our ability to defend our nation. To succeed in our mission of national defense, we cannot afford to cut ourselves off from half the country’s talents and skills – we have to take full advantage of every individual who can meet our high standards. Implementation of the decision to open all military positions to women must be handled the right way, because the combat effectiveness of our force is paramount. To make sure we did this right, I asked the military services to incorporate seven guiding principles into their implementation plans:  transparent standards, population size, talent management, physical demands and physiological differences, operating abroad, conduct and culture, and assessment and adjustment . To read more about these guiding principles and the implementation plans from the services, please see my recent post on  Medium.com . Service members and civilian guests attend the 17th annual wreath-laying ceremony at the Women In Military Service For America Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, May 20, 2014. Photo by Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Alejandro Sierras. The female cadets I spoke with are part of a proud history of American women in service that extends back to the earliest days of the revolution. Not far from where we had lunch, there stands a memorial marking the grave of Margaret Corbin, the first woman laid to rest at West Point with full military honors. On Nov. 16, 1776, when Corbin’s husband was killed during the Battle of Fort Washington, she took charge of his cannon, covering the Continental Army’s retreat. She continued to fire his cannon with deadly accuracy, making her a high-priority target, and it was her crippling injury that brought an end to the battle. She received a soldier’s pay from the Continental Congress, and later, a disability pension. Many Americans are familiar with Harriet Tubman’s heroism as a conductor on the Underground Railroad, but may not know about her military contributions during the Civil War. She planned, organized and led an operation deep into enemy-held territory in South Carolina. Her raid at the Comabahee Ferry liberated more than 720 slaves, including 100 men who later enlisted in the Union Army and participated in key battles. Retired Army Lt. Col. Luta C. McGrath, the oldest known female World War II veteran, receives a standing ovation after President Barack Obama mentioned her during a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, Nov. 11, 2015. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley. There are also Army Sgt. Carmen Contreras, Hazel Ying Lee, and Navy Lt. Susan Ahn, among many others, who served in the women’s auxiliary services during World War II. And the extraordinary leaders in our military today, including Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson, nominated by President Barack Obama last week to command NORAD and NORTHCOM as our first female combatant commander, and Army Brig. Gen. Diana Holland, West Point’s first female commandant. In another first, March 22 marked the first time that the missile alert crews at all three U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile bases consisted entirely of women, and they were joined by all-female aircrews aboard the B-52s from Minot and Barksdale Air Force Bases. Female aircrews from Offut Air Force Base’s Airborne Launch Control System also participated. And with Secretary Deborah James and recently confirmed Undersecretary Lisa Disbrow, the Air Force is now the first U.S. service to be led by women in the top two civilian posts. We’ve also made important strides to empower women around the globe. Through the implementation of the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, DoD is supporting programs aimed at advancing women’s inclusion in peace building and conflict prevention processes, and addressing the impact of violence and conflict on women and girls. U.S. Marines assigned to the female engagement team (FET) attached to Foxtrot Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment conduct a security patrol in Marjah, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Jan. 3, 2011. The FET aids the infantry Marines by engaging Afghan women and children in support of the International Security Assistance Force. DoD photo by Marine Corps Cpl. Marionne T. Mangrum. Through courses and seminars hosted by DoD’s regional centers and geographic combatant commands, we encourage our friends and allies to expand the recruitment and retention of women in their security sectors and the incorporation of gender perspectives into their peace and security policy. Also, in training partner militaries in peacekeeping operations, our forces help equip them to better prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence. In short, the women and men of the Defense Department are enabling the next generation of remarkable women to continue making history around the world. So, as we celebrate Women’s History Month, let us take pride in those who have served in our past, let us thank all of those who serve today, and let us welcome the next generation as it steps forward to serve in every capacity tomorrow. Follow the Department of Defense on  Facebook  and  Twitter ! Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.

Last year, the United States brought online as much solar energy every three weeks as it did in all of 2008, and the solar industry added jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy. And since the beginning of 2010, the average cost of a solar electric system has dropped by 50 percent. But we know that our economy is strongest when every American has the tools to get ahead. That means just as we are working to make high-quality health care and community college more available and affordable to middle-class and low-income families, we must also work to expand opportunities for families to use cleaner sources of energy that can help households save on their utility bills. That is why today, senior Administration officials were joined by Congressman Cummings and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in Baltimore to announce a new initiative to increase access to solar for all Americans , including low- and moderate- income communities, and expand opportunities join the solar workforce. Some of the key components of the initiative include: Launching a National Community Solar Partnership to unlock access to solar for the nearly 50 percent of households and businesses that are renters or do not have adequate roof space to install solar panels, including issuing a guide to Support States In Developing Community Solar Programs Setting a goal to install 300 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy in federally subsidized housing, triple our original goal, and providing technical assistance to make it easier to install solar, including clarifying how to use Federal funding; Housing authorities, rural electric co-ops, power companies, and organizations in more than 20 states across the country are committing to put in place more than 260 solar energy projects, including projects to help low- and moderate- income communities save on their energy bills and further community solar; More than $520 million in independent commitments from philanthropic and impact investors, states, and cities to advance community solar or scale up solar and energy efficiency for low- and moderate- income households; AmeriCorps funding to deploy solar and create jobs in underserved communities; Expanding solar energy education and opportunities for job training; and The solar industry is also setting its own, independent goal of becoming the most diverse sector of the U.S. energy industry, and a number of companies are announcing that they are taking steps to build a more inclusive solar workforce.  These new actions build on President Obama’s goal to train 75,000 workers to enter the solar industry by 2020 and the Solar Ready Vets program that will train transitioning military personnel for careers in the solar industry at 10 military bases.  Check out some of the photos from today’s event here:  

Solar energy is shattering records in the United States. Since President Obama took office, installed solar power has increased 13-fold, topping nearly 16 gigawatts today – enough to power the equivalent of 3.2 million average American homes. As solar energy continues to grow, it is becoming a major source of high-paying American jobs – employing nearly 143,000 full-time professionals last year. During the next decade, the solar industry is slated to grow even more. The next generation of skilled professionals will be key to the industry’s effort to meet the demand for this clean, renewable energy. That’s why the Energy Department is launching a pilot solar installation training program to provide military veterans who are transitioning out of active duty with the skills needed to become the leaders of the nation’s clean energy economy. The solar industry has long taken a leading role in hiring veterans, employing more service members than any other sector in the U.S. Building on this tradition, the SunShot Initiative’s Solar Instructor Training Network – which aims to train 50,000 new solar installers in total by 2020, some of who will be veterans – is partnering with up to three military bases to create a veterans solar job training pilot project this fall. read more

As the single largest consumer of energy in the United States, the Department of Defense (DOD) knows that improving efficiency and harnessing new energy technologies is imperative – not only to achieve significant cost savings, but to give our troops better energy options on the battlefield, at sea, in the air, and at home. At DOD’s fixed installations alone – including, barracks, offices, and hospitals – energy bills come in around $4 billion each year. Given this large footprint as well as the importance of safe, secure, and affordable energy sources to mission readiness, the Department has made one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history, by developing a goal to deploy three gigawatts of renewable energy – including solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal – on Army, Navy, and Air Force installations by 2025 – enough to power 750,000 homes. When it comes specifically to solar power, a new report today from the Solar Energy Industries Association underscores the progress that DOD is making towards its goals. “ Enlisting the Sun: Powering the U.S. Military with Solar Energy ” highlights solar energy’s growing role in powering military installations and military homes across America. According to the report, as of early 2013, there are more than 130 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems powering Navy, Army, and Air Force bases in at least 31 states and the District of Columbia. Combined, these installations provide enough clean energy to power more than 20,000 American homes. read more

It’s easy to get into debt. It’s much harder to get out of it. Fortunately, there are credit counseling agencies that can help you get your finances in order. They can help you figure out a budget and stick to it while managing your debt and avoiding future financial pitfalls. However, not all credit counseling agencies are the same. Some offer free or low-cost services while others charge high fees or might not be trustworthy. The following tips will help you choose the right credit counseling agency. Look for Agencies with a Good Reputation Most reputable credit counseling agencies are nonprofits that offer free or low-cost services. However, the fact that an agency is a nonprofit does not guarantee that it is affordable or that it has a good reputation. Here are some tips for selecting a credit agency you can trust: Ask family members and friends if they can recommend an agency. It’s best to pick one that has been around for several years and has a well-established reputation. Use credit agencies or credit counseling services referred by credit unions, banks, universities or military bases. Choose a credit agency that’s been approved by the Federal Government. You can also check out state and local consumer agencies to find out if a credit agency has complaints. Compare Services and Costs Once you have a list of agencies you can trust, the next step is to take a closer look at the services and costs they offer so that you can choose the one that best serves your needs. Be careful with credit agencies that charge high fees for services that you can get for free somewhere else. Some of the most common services offered by credit agencies include: Professional, person-to-person assistance with managing your money and debt. Help putting together a family budget and sticking to it. Free workshops and educational material. Ask Lots of Questions Before finally choosing a credit agency, it’s worth writing down a list of questions you might have so that you can avoid surprises such as hidden fees or limited services. Here are some questions to help you pick the right credit agency. Are there different fees for different services? Some agencies might charge for initial consultations or a monthly fee. Be careful with agencies that pay their employees more depending on the services you sign up for. Will you be signing a contract before getting counseling? If so, be sure to read the contract before signing it. Does the agency have the right certifications to provide credit counseling? It’s best to use agencies that have been certified by independent organizations. What is the privacy policy of the agency? It’s important that your personal and financial information is protected.

eglin-air-force-base

Eglin Air Force Base Lodging is available on or off base for transient personnel.  Bachelor Officer Quarters are not available on base.  Hotels near Eglin AFB can be booked in Valparaiso, Niceville, and Destin, Florida directly through Per Diem Hotels.  Lodging can be reserved on base at Eglin for a temporary duty assignment to the…

us-marine-corps

Marine Corps Base Lodging The Marine Corps Community Services (MCSS) lodging program is implemented much like the Army MWR Lodging program, and it serves military members, families, retired military, and DoD civilian personnel.  The Marine Corps base lodging program is similar to the Navy Lodge Hotels program which offers official and off-duty travel accommodations.  The…

united-states-navy

Navy Lodge Information The Navy Lodging program operated by the Navy Lodge provides base hotel facilities in the US and abroad for PCS & TDY travelers looking to stay in furnished quarters on base.  Navy lodging facilities are operated at most major installations and the Navy Elite Lodging Plan offers three base hotel options: economy,…

us-air-force

Air Force Inns The Air Force recently implemented its Defense Lodging System which allows for online reservations.  The Air Force’s MWR lodging is run by the Air Force Services Agency which is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas.  All Air Force Inns are operated through the base MWR program much like the Army MWR Post Lodging…